Exactly how people and businesses are being impacted are the primary questions of concern as is the impact on the Sheffield neighborhood of Lincoln Park.
Now, three Alderman—Ald. Michele Smith, Ald. Scott Waguespack and Ald. Bob Fioretti—are to going to share the responsibilities of the Lincoln Park community. Exactly how this will happen during the remap transition remains unclear. The timing of when the new Ward boundaries will be respected is another matter of confusion and legal disagreement.
Ald. Michele Smith recently told the Sheffield Neighborhood Association that she is already “cooperating with 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack regarding issues that are in areas that will be changing wards.” Interestingly, there was no mention of Ald. Bob Fioretti whose remapped 2nd Ward will divide the Sheffield Community separating the 43rd Ward of Ald. Smith and that of Ald. Waguespack.
As the light of the legal system slowly begins to illuminate The League of Women Voters gerrymandering claims against the City, new questions and inconsistencies are beginning to surface everywhere.
The distinct scent of old fashion backroom cigar smoke—the type of political practices Chicagoan's tired of long ago—is again beginning to permeate the City. Asked to give his take on the ward remap, Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader responded, “it’s of course the product of back-room politics.”
When asked if he agreed with Mick Dumke’s claim, Ald. Scott Waguespack responded, “if it wasn't public...then it could only be back room.”
Ald. Brendan Reilly whose 42nd Ward borders portions of the new 2nd Ward in the downtown area, responded in a tweet requesting his take on the ward remap saying, “There aren’t many alderman happy w their new maps, including me.” Apparently, Reilly’s responsibly under the remapped ward has grown from a total population of 55,870 to 80,000+ constituents.
Courageously, Ald. Fioretti who voted against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget and who, along with Ald. Waguespack and six other Aldermen in the city, voted against the new ward map confirmed that they were not shown the details of the remap—other than in the 30 minutes prior to the Council’s vote. Importantly, the remap boundaries apparently were not the same boundaries previously shown to the public either.
Despite Ald. Reilly’s claim that many aldermen aren’t happy with their new maps, 41 aldermen voted to support the new ward map within 30 minutes—purportedly to avoid a referendum. One concern among the many likely to follow is, at what cost to the City—which now must defend a federal lawsuit brought by The League of Women Voters?
Apparently, 41 Aldermen don’t seem to find the idea of transparency and following the law the most cost effective approach for Chicago.
In an attempt to sort through the City Council’s failure to reveal the boundaries of the new ward map to the public, or for that matter many of the aldermen, three questions are being posed to the Mayor, politicians, activists, neighborhood associations and residents across the city:
- Do Chicago Aldermen fear Rahm?
- Is the League of Women Voters remap lawsuit justified?
- When should the remap boundaries begin?
Let us add one more question to the rubric of the City Council’s remap politics. In the event that the federal court makes a finding of gerrymandering, by clear and convincing evidence--the standard required to enjoin the remap: Should the 41 Alderman who voted for the remapping to avoid a referendum—showing their individual intent—be held personally liable to city for the City's legal expenses?
Asked differently: Why should the public pay for their clear breach of fiduciary responsibility and lack of transparency?
While promised, a response to the following questions from the Lincoln Park, Sheffield Neighborhood Association (SNA) has been pending since April 22nd:
- Did members of the SNA participate in public hearings on the NEW Ward Remap?
- Were members of the SNA consulted or given a chance to view the NEW Ward Remap prior to a vote by the City Council?
- What is the position of the SNA on how the 2nd Ward which now splits the community into 3 Wards?
- Is the SNA actively reaching out to Ald. Bob Fioretti? Was he consulted?
To his credit, Ald. Fioretti has not attempted to disenfranchise Ald. Waguespack’s to become, 2nd Ward constituents. Nevertheless, Fioretti has offered to assist those who find themselves abounded by the uncertainty of remap politics.
Surely, city officials, elected politicians and members of the neighborhood associations will continue to be pressed as the needs and services of the Lincoln Park community and people across the city become increasingly uncertain and urgent.